Here is list of BookPage's top ten heartwarming reads. These are books that we think are well-written and uplifting, and they're light in tone. (Think: no explicit sex or violence.)
BookPage recommends plenty of books that don't fit into this category, but we recognize that some readers sometimes want something warm and fuzzy. This list is for you!
What are your favorite light-hearted books?
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Stein’s heartwarming third novel has a unique twist: Its narrator is none other than a remarkably articulate, timelessly wise lab-terrier mix named Enzo. (It's a believable voice—we promise!) Enzo provides humorous and sympathetic commentary on his owner’s misadventures in love, friendship and work. Read it before the movie comes out in 2012. Learn more on BookPage.com.
Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs. This rich pastiche of friendship and motherhood (with a savory side of romance) will win your heart. And that's no surprise—it's by the author of The Friday Night Knitting Club. The story centers on Augusta "Gus" Simpson, a celebrity chef who may be on the verge of a midlife crisis. Learn more on BookPage.com.
Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith. Thanks to his novels' gentle humor and generous spirit, Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world's most beloved authors. Corduroy Mansions, the start of a new series, is no exception. It's about the charming characters who live in a small pocket within a larger city—London. Learn more on BookPage.com.
Friendship Bread by Darien Gee. An Amish Friendship Bread starter leads to a family's healing—and brings together a community in this enjoyable debut. As Gee told BookPage in a behind-the-book essay: "Amish Friendship Bread is so much more than a simple recipe; it’s about friendship and community, about sharing what you have with others and expressing gratitude for the good things in your life." Learn more on BookPage.com.
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. For readers hopelessly smitten by Southern writers, this book should arrive with a gentle warning: Proceed with caution once you start reading, this book is impossible to put down! The poetic, magical story centers on two sisters brought together at an unplanned reunion born of desperation—not fondness. Learn more on BookPage.com.
Hector and the Search for Happiness by François Lelord. This international hit is about a psychiatrist who wants to know what makes people happy. Somehow, psychological research turns into a fast-paced, enchanting story, and readers will be encouraged to ask: Am I happy? How could I change to make myself happier? Learn more on BookPage.com.
Julie and Romeo by Jeanne Ray. Ray (who happens to be Ann Patchett's mother, as well as a talented novelist) shows that there is life and love after children, grandchildren, divorce and age 60. This twist on Romeo and Juliet is wise, witty and thoroughly modern. Learn more on BookPage.com.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson. In this delightful debut novel, Simonson has created a charming and engaging story of the hazards of English country life. While reading this book, you’ll laugh, you’ll wipe away a tear or two and you certainly will enjoy time spent with Major Pettigrew. Learn more on BookPage.com.
Miss Julia Paints the Town by Ann B. Ross. There's a reason Ann B. Ross' series set in imaginary Abbotsville, North Carolina, has won the hearts of so many fans: The star, Miss Julia, is feisty, funny, strong and capable. Plus, her small-town adventures will keep you laughing and entertained. Learn more on BookPage.com.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. How many 70-year-olds can also claim the title of best-selling debut novelist? We know of at least one: Canadian author Alan Bradley, whose book The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie became a word-of-mouth hit in early 2009. Set in Britain just after World War II, the novel stars Flavia de Luce, a fiercely intelligent 11-year-old with a talent for chemistry and a nose for mystery. Learn more on BookPage.com.
Another note on why we chose to compile this list: When we surveyed readers for best list ideas in March, one person commented: "I’m currently looking for something non-depressing in light of world news."
It's true that sometimes we read books to educate ourselves about the very real events going on in the world—see my post from Monday about Bin Laden expert Steve Coll—and sometimes we read to get away from it all. And I love that reading is a recession-proof activity. No matter how bad things get for you financially, it's still free to check out a book from the library, and that book might take you anywhere in the world.
(There are exceptions to this, of course: when library funding is cut, or when libraries themselves are destroyed by natural disaster, as has happened to some branches in Alabama. Thankfully, libraries are eligible for FEMA funds because they are considered "essential community services." We couldn't agree more.)